College Ave and Sallie Mae are two popular companies that offer a wide variety of personal student loans. Both companies have loans tailored to a variety of disciplines, from undergraduate to medical school and law school. College Ave offers a range of repayment options and some of the lowest entry rates in the industry. Sallie Mae, on the other hand, offers numerous online resources for current and prospective college students.
The right choice for you depends on your student loan priorities and which lender is offering you the best rates. It’s always a good idea to get quotes from several companies before making your decision.
key to take away
College Ave is better if you’re looking for a customizable payback, while Sallie Mae is a good option for students taking only a few courses at a time or those who want access to additional resources.
Sallie Mae vs. College Ave
|Sallie Mae||college avenue|
|Interest charges||2% to 12.35% variable, 3.75% to 13.72% fixed (with Autopay)||0.94% to 12.99% variable, 3.39% to 13.95% fixed (with Autopay)|
|Refund Policy||10 to 20 years||5 to 20 years|
|loan amounts||$1,000 to full entry fee||$1,000 up to full cost of attendance (maximum $150,000 for some degrees)|
|advantages||Scholarship Search Tool; four months free access to a Chegg learning package; Loans for students studying less than half the time||Extended deferral during fellowship or residency; four repayment options at school; low minimum APR|
|Disadvantages||Bad customer reviews; high interest rate caps; few runtime options||Bad customer reviews; $150,000 credit limit for some college degrees; few admission requirements disclosed|
Details as of July 12, 2022
Sallie Mae Student Loans: Pros and Cons
Sallie Mae is one of the most recognizable names in the student loan world. Still, there are pros and cons of the company worth considering before signing up.
- Offers for part-time students: Many student loan lenders require students to be at least half enrolled, but Sallie Mae is expanding the pool to include students who are less than half enrolled, taking professional certification courses, or studying abroad.
- Web sources: Sallie Mae’s website contains scholarship directories, financial planning advice, and calculators. Other lenders — including College Ave — offer some assistance on their websites, but Sallie Maes is a step ahead of the rest.
- Long deferral and grace periods: Most Sallie Mae grad school loans come with generous deferral options after graduation. For example, with law school loans, students can benefit from a nine-month grace period, 12 interest payments after the grace period, and 48 months of deferral during a clerkship.
- Bad customer feedback: Sallie Mae has poor customer reviews on both the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot, so it’s clear that some customers have had negative experiences with the lender.
- Multiple Fees: While you can avoid many fees by making timely payments on your Sallie Mae loan, a late payment will cost you 5 percent, or $25, and a returned check will cost you $20.
- Limited Runtime Options: Undergraduate students have repayment periods of only 10 to 15 years, and graduate students have only one repayment option. For medical school and dental school, the term is 20 years, and for business school, law school, and general graduate school, the term is 15 years. This is a lot less flexibility than what other lenders offer.
College Ave Student Loans: Pros and Cons
College Ave’s loans are fairly customizable, although there are some downsides — especially for graduate students.
- Four repayment options at school: Students with a College Ave loan can choose from one of four repayment options during their school term: full principal and interest payments, interest-only payments, a $25 lump sum payment, or full deferred payments. This array of options can help students avoid interest capitalization and pay off their loans faster.
- Large selection of repayment terms: Undergraduate students can choose from four repayment terms, while some graduate students can choose from five. This allows students to customize their loan repayment and find a monthly payment that works for them.
- Quick application: According to College Ave, the first loan application takes just three minutes. The prequalification form is intuitive and automatically deducts the cost of attending your school and provides estimated budgets for things like books and supplies.
- Dissatisfied former customers: College Ave has poor reviews from customers on Better Bureau and Trustpilot, suggesting borrowers have encountered problems with the company’s management of their loans.
- Does not disclose admission requirements: While student loan companies are often reluctant to share full details about their eligibility requirements, College Ave is unusually cautious about who qualifies for its student loans.
- Credit limits for some college degrees: Many student loan lenders allow students to borrow up to the full cost of attending their school. However, College Ave sets a $150,000 cap on loans for dental schools, law schools, medical schools, and business schools.
Which is Better: Sallie Mae or College Ave?
Sallie Mae and College Ave share some characteristics: the same minimum loan amount, similar interest rates, and fairly generous grace periods. Both are worthwhile options, although your decision might depend on which features you find most important.
If you’re looking for flexibility with your student loans, College Ave is probably a better choice. Multiple repayment options mean you can tinker with your credits to find the right repayment plan for you, both during school and after graduation. It’s also a digital first lender with a quick application process and dozens of educational articles.
Sallie Mae, on the other hand, might be a better choice if you want a more well-rounded student loan provider. Its loans aren’t as flexible as College Ave’s, but it does provide students with resources to find scholarships, plan for college, and get student aid. It also gives students the opportunity to defer student loans during internships, clerkships, and more.
It’s wise to get offers from both companies before applying, even if you think you’ve made your decision. Eligibility requirements vary by lender, so Sallie Mae could end up giving you a much cheaper loan than College Ave, or vice versa. Having offers from both companies side-by-side can help you make a more informed decision about which is better for you.